Bouddi Coastal Walk

One of my favourite Sydney walks, the Bouddi Coastal Walk is one of the best coastal walks around Sydney. It traverses a number of beautiful beaches and scenic lookouts between Little Beach to the north and Putty Beach at the south.

The Bouddi Coastal Walk follows the coast from MacMasters Beach to Putty Beach, through the Bouddi National Park an hour north of Sydney. You can do this walk in both directions, with a few variations to minimize “back-tracking”. I’ve always started at Little Beach (leaving out the short MacMasters Beach to Little Beach short section, which is partly on-road). Starting at this end has the advantage that, if time permits, you can get a cold drink or even lunch at the kiosk at Killcare Beach, before returning. Or you could organise a car shuffle and do the walk in one direction. You can also do the walk in shorter sections. It’s a fantastic and fairly easy walk that was nominated as “one of the 18 best day walks in Australia” by Australian Geographic. (If you’re after a shorter walk that offers the best of Bouddi National Park, I’d strongly recommend the Bullimah Spur circuit).

Starting near Little Beach, you can take either the “Old Quarry Trail” or “the Bouddi Coastal Walk” trail from the carpark: both join up eventually (the Coastal Walk track is initially narrower and more of a foot trail).

(Little Beach can be accessed via a separate path from the carpark, or a short detour off the Coastal Walk track. It’s a small, sheltered beach with a grassy area where camping is permitted. On a warm day, it’s a good spot for a final swim before returning to the car – but it’s not the nicest beach along this section of coast.)

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After 400m the two trails join and become a wide fire trail for a while, before turning back to a narrow trail again about two kilometres from the start.

From here the track follows the coastline quite closely, and while a bit exposed, I think it’s one of the nicest sections of the Coastal Track. There’s great views over the ocean and along the coast: Bouddi Point is just ahead, followed by Gerrin Point, and far off in the distance is Box Head.

After 3.5km, we’re at Maitland Bay (I’m doing this walk with my father). The track descends steeply down to the eastern end of the the beach.

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A sheltered bay, Maitland Bay is one of the most picturesque beaches around Sydney. It’s often mentioned as one of the top “secret” beaches in NSW (eg. Australian Traveller’s “21 Secret Beaches in Sydney and NSW“). If you have time, it’s a nice spot for lunch or a swim, with many shaded areas along the middle as well as both ends of the beach. It’s never busy, although every year there seems to be a few more people on the beach… If you go mid-week you’ll probably have the beach to yourself (we saw two other people on a Thursday).

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The beach is named after the SS Maitland (having previously been called Boat Harbour), a paddle steamer which ran aground and sank in 1898, killing 27 people. The remains of the boat can be seen at low tide, just off the rocks at Bouddi Point.

From here, we follow the beach around to the far end, taking the Maitland Bay track at the other end of the beach. After a couple of hundred metres the main track continues up the hill (this is the shortest access to the beach) but we go left, continuing along the Coastal Track.

This is another nice section of the Coastal Walk, again closely following the coast and offering a combination of views and shaded sections of forest.

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It’s not far from here (about 1.5km from Maitland Bay) to Gerrin Point Lookout, where there’s a timber platform perched on the edge of the cliffs. It’s would be a great spot for whale watching at the right time of year.

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From the lookout you can see the crescent-shaped Maitland Bay, where we’ve come from, and over the Bouddi National Park Marine Extension. We’ve done just under six kilometres so far, and are nearing the end of the walk.

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The last section is the most popular, and you’re unlikely to be on your own… A timber boardwalk follows the coast, with a turn-off to the small Bullimah Beach just after Gerrin Point.

A little further on is the tessellated pavement, where the sandstone has been subdivided into regular rectangles.

A bit more boardwalk, and I’m at the end of Putty Beach. This is the longest beach in the Bouddi National Park, consisting of Putty Beach at the northern end and Killcare Beach at the southern end. A stroll along the beach to the far end takes you to Killcare Surf Life Saving Club, where there is a kiosk that’s open every day until about 3pm.

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It’s 7km to Putty Beach; from here I’ve always returned the same way along the boardwalk superhighway to Gerrin Point, and then either up via the Bullimah Spur (note that the Bullimah Track is not signposted and can be hard to spot) or along to Maitland Bay and up the Maitland Bay Track to form a loop.

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From Maitland Bay, to avoid returning the same way, we take the Maitland Bay Track, which climbs steadily up to the ridge. It’s a shaded track that provides the most direct access to the beach.

At the end of this trail is the carpark, and the Bouddi National Park Information Centre, open for a few hours on weekends. We continue along the Stroms Trail. A wide track that follows the road, it’s also suitable for mountain biking.  There’s rarely anyone else on this trail – today there’s just a lace monitor, one of of Australia’s largest lizards sharing the track with us.

The Stroms Trail follows the ridge for about 2.3km, before joining the main road (The Scenic Road). From here there are two options:

  • a rather boring 2km walk along the The Scenic Road and down Grahame Drive back to the car
  • go down Mount Bouddi Road and return to the Bouddi Coastal Trail via the Mount Bouddi Track – a much longer option, but avoids walking on roads.
Start / End points
Distance 14km return / (14-18km loop depending on route)
Grade Easy/Moderate. Total 270-600m ascent depending on route
Season/s All year.
Maps
  • Interactive topographical map [AllTrails] – via Mount Bouddi Track
  • Interactive topographical map [AllTrails] – via The Scenic Road
  • 9130-1N Broken Bay (1:25K) Buy / Download
  • Bouddi National Park sketch map from park office. 1:25K
GPS Route Gaia GPS map with GPX / KML download – return via Mount Bouddi Track
Gaia GPS map with GPX / KML download – return via The Scenic Road
Resources
Map-BouddiNationalPark-CoastalWalk
Map showing Bouddi Coastal Walk route with different route options

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